Better information on council assets an opportunity
Better information on council assets an opportunity for all
councils in New Zealand
19 November 2015
“The EY and Cameron Partners’ reports into Auckland Council assets which go before the Finance Committee today underscore the improving asset management practices of the Auckland Council and send a message to all public agencies that good capital management is not just an Auckland but a national issue,” says Stephen Selwood, CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.
“Understanding what assets you have, what benefits you receive from those assets and whether you can get a better return elsewhere is fundamental to effective investment and asset management.
“If this information can be used to recycle public capital from underperforming investments to ones which return higher social or economic return, then the region as a whole will be better off. Investment in better transport networks targeting regional productivity would be an obvious alternative investment strategy for Auckland.
“An even better outcome would be if the remaining 78 local bodies joined Auckland, Christchurch and the Treasury in identifying and agreeing the value, cost and benefit of assets under public management.
“We are now approaching a position where it will be possible to benchmark the performance of Auckland’s investments against those of Christchurch. Over time, ratepayers will have access to information on how well the portfolios are performing, including what sort of models are working for the likes of port, land, housing and other assets.
“The two councils will be able to learn from each other and demonstrate to their residents and the Finance Minister that council money is genuinely working as hard as it can. Making the case for increased rates or additional Government assistance will then be much simpler.
“Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to see what’s going on outside Auckland and Christchurch. Many assets are bundled up with other investments and hidden deep inside complex public documents which are not easily compared with other jurisdictions.
“There is a large national opportunity cost to councils presiding over opaque and under-performing assets where performance cannot be benchmarked against the rest of the country.
“Standardised and transparent benchmarking of asset performance would provide a basis for all public agencies to demonstrate they are managing assets to best advantage.